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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Arbutus, MD USA
    Posts
    54

    Default Insulating around fondant ?

    Had quite a number of dead bees in front of a hive over a period of a week or so, following a cold snap in the area. Didn't want to do any inspecting due to the temps, so made up my mind to ensure that they may die, but they aren't going to starve. Cooked up some fondant and placed it on top of the topmost frames, in the absence of any fondant frame feeders. Then a medium box less frames was placed over the hive and then lastly the inner cover and telescoping top. BTW, the bb is solid.

    Is insulating within the top box critical? I placed a whole bunch of loose oak leaves in the box to prevent the drafty barn effect...sort of around and all about the fondant. Is this bad?

    Of course, on that day it was mild outside, so the bees were becoming testy quickly.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,220

    Default Re: Insulating around fondant ?

    I would use the oak leaves in a condenser box rather than on the fondant -- if the bees can't get to it, they can't use the sugar.

    If it is warm enough sometime, take another medium or shallow box, staple some screenwire (any size) to the bottom, and remove the leaves from around the fondant and put them on top of the wire screen. Fill the box full of leaves, then put it over the empty box around the fondant.

    If you have the ability to make one, a shallow frame around the fondant is better than a whole empty medium, but the bees do NOT heat the hive, they stay warm in the cluster. Any heat lost will warm the air in the hive some, but it is heat lostn, not heat generated to warm the hive.

    The bees will only use the fondant when it's above clustering temperature unless the cluster uses all the stores below it and has moved up into contact with it.

    Peter

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Arbutus, MD USA
    Posts
    54

    Default Re: Insulating around fondant ?

    Excellent idea, ps. I'll make that condenser box with a shallow or med box and screen, leaving enough clearance for access to the goods. Just tryin to keep their place in order. Thx
    Last edited by honeyman46408; 12-08-2013 at 02:56 AM. Reason: UNQuote

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    rensselaer, ny, USA
    Posts
    294

    Default Re: Insulating around fondant ?

    I have had "quilt" boxes filled with coarse pine shavings (from Tractor Supply) on my hives for a month now. I am in a much colder area than you (northern NY) and I have been surprised (and satisfied) to not find any moisture in the hives despite recent very cold temps (down to low teens or single digits at night). My QB are the depth of comb-honey boxes (i.e slightly less deep than a typical shallow). I just happened to have them on hand and not in use, which is why I chose them. I stapled a tightly drawn cotton muslin layer on the bottom of the boxes, without a wire for support. I was concerned that moisture rising would condense on the wires and drip down. Last Thursday (a quick temp rise to nearly 50) I had the tops off for a brief peek: no evidence of any moisture accumulation (no staining, changes of color, etc.) within the hive at all. The bottom-most shavings felt slightly cooler to the touch, so they may have absorbed some rising moisture vapor on its way out of the hive. Above my QB I have a 1 3/4" shim, with a 1 3/8ths in hole in it, wide open. There's a second one which, for now, I have plugged. If you look in the hole, you can see the mounded-up shavings. I also have 1.5" of foam insulation tucked onto the telescoping cover, so that may also be important in reducing condensation. In the shim below the quilt box (where I plan to slide in sold food, or sugar, if necessary), I have a top entrance about 1/2" round. Nobody is using it, though.

    I found that having the cloth stapled on (I used plastic greenhouse batten tape to hold it down firmly along the sides of the boxes) made the boxes a bit leaky where they joined one another. On two of my three hives, I applied a thin band of that stick-on window insulation foam, which cured the problem completely. It also made the boxes a lot less slide-y, which was an improvement as the bees don't have a chance to propolize these late add-ons we decide to try.

    Only time will tell if the QBs work or make any difference. But one thing for sure, they make me feel better on very cold nights. Even though the word quilt makes them seem cozy, I think the real benefit, if any, is not added warmth but rather reducing opportunities for condensation and drips while still allowing controlled ventilation in the hive. It was a simple, inexpensive, improvement to make. Applying it late, made little or no disrurbance to the bees. I just chose my day carefully (chose a day in the low 40s and calm), popped of the tops and added the QB and shims (one above and below it) and slapped the top back on. Easy-peasy, and took less than 90 seconds, tops. I can still easily slip lift it up and slip a sugar block right in under it on top of the uppermost frames.

    Oak leaves may be a good substitute for pine shavings if they are dense enough. But I think pine shaving would be better at absorbing moisture because oak leaves have more of a cuticle on their surface. OTOH, they are free and if you are using ones from smaller, more lacey rather than the broader leafed-species, then they would be OK. Pine shavings cost, I think, about $5 for a small bale at TS. I could fill six, or more, comb-depth boxes with one bale. I may just keep the boxes and shavings for re-use next year, or I may dump the shavings out on my blueberries and add fresh ones next Fall.

    Enj.

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